Monday, December 10, 2012

Charlie Strong, Tom Jurich, and the Church


Louisville has been the center of the college football universe.  Okay, maybe not, but if coaches can speak in hyperbole, I'll do it too.

Blogs, newspapers, call-in shows, news broadcasts and social networks were all abuzz last week regarding the future of current University of Louisville football coach, Charlie Strong. Strong was the front-runner for the coaching vacancy at the University of Tennessee.  Many fans in Louisville, including myself, expected Strong to bolt for a chance to coach in the best football conference in the nation.  

News broke on Twitter Wednesday night that Strong had decided to stay.  A press conference was held  Thursday morning by Strong that confirmed the rumors.  The head coach read a passionate prepared statement citing the importance of family, loyalty, and trust in his decision to stay put at Louisville.

After finishing his remarks, reporters asked about numbers-how much did it take to keep him in Louisville.  Strong stated that he and athletic director, Tom Jurich, never discussed numbers.  Not even a ballpark number.  Shortly afterward, Jurich confirmed the story on a local sports show. When the host of the show asked, "How does that conversation even start? What did you tell him?"  Jurich responded, "I just told him I'd take care of him. He knows me. He trusts me."

Strong and Jurich have built a relationship based on family, loyalty, and trust.  So much so that all Tom Jurich had to say was "I'll take care of you"-nothing in writing, nothing signed, just a promise was enough.

After hearing these comments I immediately thought of church. I've been at the same place of worship for 17 years.  Countless numbers of friends and family members have left the church for countless reasons during the same time span.  Relocation, changing family status, programming, damaged relationships, staffing, or difference in mission/vision are all reasons people have shared with me that they decided to leave.

But this isn't about them, this is about me.  Well it's about the awesome people at my church home.

I kinda feel like coach Strong. Having a Bible college degree and ministry experience there have been opportunities to serve other places.  There have been times where serving at my church has been difficult, relationships were strained, vision was unclear, or I was simply restless. 

I think my reasons for staying are similar to Coach Strong's.

FAMILY: The church is my family.  I've experienced love, grace, discipline, and joy in the context of deep, long-lasting relationships.

LOYALTY:  These deep relationships have resulted in a strong desire for me to stay loyal to our mission and vision.

TRUST:  Deep relationships have led to a great degree of trust in leadership and the direction of the church.   

I've been at my church as a college student, single person, married person, and now father.  I've been a volunteer, intern, and staff person.  And as you can imagine, I've been through a myriad of circumstances that life brings.  And through it all God has used his church to take care of me and my family.

Strong wanted to stay at the University of Louisville because he knew there was still work to do, a clear path to get it done, and an athletic director who would take care of him.

I've chosen to stay planted at my church because our work is not complete, there is a clear vision and mission, but most of all because God's people have taken care of me.

Is your church a family where you experience trust and loyalty in devotion to one another?  What can we do to ensure our churches and faith communities are places where this happens?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'll Just LIKE Jesus on Facebook Instead



"I just wanna be more like Jesus"

I've said it. Prayed it. Sang it. Preached it. Shared it. 

Loudly. Softly. Tearfully. Joyfully. Sacredly. Candidly. 

Then I really started to think about it.

Then I started reading about it.

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. -Matthew 26:3-4

Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. -John 6:15

Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” -Mark 3:20-21

And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there,because of their unbelief.-Matthew 13:56-58

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. -Matthew 22:15

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” -Matthew 8:20

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him. -Mark 14:44-46

Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. -John 19:1-3

So let me get this straight...

People plotted against him.
He had to withdraw to lonely places.
Called crazy by his family.
Held without honor.
People tried to trap him with his words.
Homeless.
Betrayed by a friend.
Misunderstood.
Flogged.
Mocked.
Struck.

Upon further review, there is absolutely nothing in my life that resembles this.

Well...some people in my family do think I am crazy...but for different reasons.

So when I say "I want to be like Jesus."  What do I mean?

Holy, pleasing to the Father, focused, relational, sacrificial, a servant, etc.

Sure.

And I want it WITHOUT any of the bad stuff, ya know, the suffering. Which actually makes us more like him.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. -Philippians 3:8-11

I'd much rather Like Jesus, than BE LIKE JESUS.

If we really pray to "be like him" is this a dangerous prayer?








Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Interesting Stats Time

This is the actual graph for the past month
Here's the latest.

The top 3 most visited posts of the past month are:
Be What You Are
Generate Good
Trifecta

Many hits are just a result of Google image searches.  I don't know if it means the person actually went to the site, or if the picture just pulled up in Google search.  That's how I found the pic, so it's originally linked to something else.  I don't track my own page views, so I'm not adding to the count.

It's interesting to look at each posts individual page views.  Some posts have less than 10, especially lately.  It looks like the average is closer to 20, but there are a few that have huge numbers.
Will's last 2 posts Is Your Child Spiritually Prepared and Chik-fil-heyyyyy were in the 40's, as was Turn the Other Cheek?When Should You Leave Your Church got up to 148 views.  Generate Good reached 230 and Trifecta hit 369!  Of course, those last 2 have been posted the longest and again, I'm assuming a lot of those were from Google image searches since I see that site routinely show up in the Traffic Sources.  


I don't know how to divide actual readers from google image searchers, but it says to me that putting a lot of pictures in the blog can increase viewing, and the ones with the highest numbers were probably the most read also.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bloggers Blog about Blogging

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post entitled A Blog About Blogging.  In that post, I lamented the lack of responses 'we' were getting.  I say we because my intention with this blog has never been to unilaterally dictate my thoughts to an audience, but rather for us all to raise interesting questions/topics and have a discussion about them.  Additionally, I don't 'monetize' this site so it can be plainly and purely about the marketplace of thoughts and ideas.

However, responses rarely happen.

I've noticed the same phenomenon on the blogs of those who have much wider circles of contacts, and even the blogs of some fairly well-known national personalities.  Additionally, I've commented on the blogs of those who seem to have like-minded worldviews and even then often don't get a response back from the blogger!  It seems very odd to me.


So it has made me wonder lately about the feasiblility of having a bloggers blog.

Obviously, those who blog enjoy doing so.  Many may just want to get information out about what their family is up to, or post some pictures.  But others seem to want to have a discussion about various important topics.  They enjoy give and take on debating issues.  

What if there was a blog that was just made up of bloggers?  Combine various like-minded bloggers into one site.  Seek out those who feel similarly get them to trade unilateral control for greater interaction.  I think that's what I've tried to do here by inviting everyone I know that I think may be interested to be an 'author' on this site.

On the Blog About Blogging, Will mentioned a theory he has about lack of commenting that's related to talk shows.  He said a lot of people listen, but very few (percentage-wise) call in.  Maybe that's true.  But I feel certain that there are those out there who, like me - and Steve, and maybe Micah - want to exchange thoughts and ideas in a convenient method like blogging.  Not just getting their own ideas out there, but having interaction with others about the thoughts of the group.

Any comments?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fear and Self-centeredness

Will directed me to a Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz) blog where the author was making the case that in order to actually BE great, you have to not CARE about being great.  In other words - get the focus off of yourself and onto whatever it is that you are making your life's work or mission.  

That made me think about my theory of public speaking.

It's pretty widely accepted that public speaking is the average person's greatest fear. Death is reportedly a distant second.  Whether or not this is verifiably true is completely irrelevant to this post, because I want to talk about what's behind this particular fear, and how it may translate to other fears.  

We all have felt this fear in one way or another.  Whether it's before a large audience, small group, or maybe just giving a presentation to 1 or 2 others.  Why is this?  People rarely throw tomatoes anymore.  Maybe your job depends on presenting things effectively before others.  That would be a better, but I think less common, reason for anxiety.  When you have to publicly speak, do you just try to get through it, trying to ignore the anxiety?  What if we acknowledge it?  Will it only grow?  Well, it's a fact anyway, so let's discuss strategies for overcoming it.

I was on my way to a group meeting recently.  I am not the official leader of this group, but I began to think about how I could influence it, help it run better, what I could say, how I would appear, I, me, myself....suddenly I realized my entire focus was on myself, not the group at all.  I felt as though I was being told - get the focus off of you and onto the good of the others.  This was actually a great relief.  When I began to be more intentionally focused on what I could do to further the group, connect with individuals, meet needs, and facilitate interaction - as opposed to how I would appear - I felt released to do what was necessary, rather than what made me look good.

I think this is the same dynamic that operates when publicly speaking.  We are mostly concerned with how we look, sound, how it's being received, what the audience thinks of us, than we are with simply relaying the pertinent information and effectively engaging the audience.  

I think that 1) the degree to which we focus on ourselves, and 2) being comfortable before an audience are inversely proportional.  When self-focus goes up, comfort goes down, and vice-versa.  

Another related topic is irrational fear.  I think this ties in through an anxiety cycle, or self-fulfilling expectations.

These fears don't make logical sense, yet they are real for the person experiencing them.  My wife doesn't like riding on elevators.  It didn't matter how many 'safe' elevator rides she had, or how many times I told her that was irrational - she doesn't like riding on elevators!  I have many people that come into the clinic that are afraid of needles, of getting an IV.  Some have actually passed out!  Is it from pain?  Of course not.  It was an irrational fear that manifested in a psychosomatic way as a result of anxiety.  

What's the connection?

Only the fact that if we have experienced anxiety in a setting before (public speaking), we anticipate experiencing it again the next time it comes up, and then fulfill our expectation of that event, even before it happens.  Actually, much like the IV-phobes, the anticipation can be much worse than the event.

Thus the saying:  There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.

How true.

Some may prefer to ignore anxieties and fears due to discomfort, but I find that addressing them head-on gives some sense of power and control to me.  

Another interesting and related topic would be:  what do we do when our emotions are in complete disagreement with logic and reason?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Are you INappropriately content?

Where are you in life?  
What road are you on?  
Where are you going?  
Are you really where you want to be?  

Some may read these questions and say, 'Heck no, I'm definitely not happy with where I'm at'.  But my guess is that most of us naturally think, 'Sure, I'm about where I should be.  I'm making the best of my circumstances.  I don't really have many options anyway.'

It's kind of like the person who doesn't really like their job, or their boyfriend/girlfriend, but thinks, 'There's probably nothing out there any better for me anyway.  Besides, why take a chance on losing what I've got just to chase after a hope or an ideal.'  They settle.  

But isn't being discontent wrong biblically?  Depends.  Paul tells us in Phil. 4 that he's learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  Was he settling?  No, that man was on an epic, world-changing adventure.  He was accepting of the crazy hardships and struggles that the adventure brought his way.  It was worth it.  Hebrews 13 tells us to be content, but in what context?  Regarding the love of money.   If our ladder is on the wall of material success, watch out!  Some people, craving money, have wandered from true faith and impaled themselves (1 Tim. 6).

It's so easy in America to settle into a decent job, have all the necessities and a few luxuries, and think 'this is it, I'm secure, life is smooth'.  Cautious and/or lazy and/or apathetic.  
No adventure, no risk, no daring greatly.

"Complacency is the deadly enemy of spiritual progress. The contented soul is the stagnant soul."  The Size of the Soul, A.W. Tozer

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Power of Music

Music.

Emotion.

Energy.

The mechanics of vibrating strings on a guitar or piano cycling at a certain hertz - 440 for A - combined with E, a dominant 5th.  Make the 3rd or 7th flat for a minor key and get a whole new sonic texture - or 'harmony'.  8 notes in a scale, including the octave - which cycles exactly twice or half as much.

A rhythm to drive the process.  Bass as a mediator between the beat and the melody.  

Ipods, boomboxes, orchestras, to stadium PA's - WE LOVE OUR MUSIC!

What is is about music that has the power to incite a range of emotions from sadness to elation?  Where does 'music' come from?  Why do certain combinations of notes and chords and melodies appeal to us?  What is music exactly?  Is God the ultimate author of all things musical?

Explode Your Brain

Explode:  to expand with force


Click on above link to watch YouTube video.

Why do I want you to watch this?  
Because it shows how we naturally come to accept as mundane, what is actually incredibly intricate, complex, fascinating and ultimately mysterious.  Something as simple as viewing a leaf takes on a whole new dimension.  Of course, the opposite can be said as well.  What is so incomprehensibly complex, and open to controversy between philosophy and science, can be so readily and simply understood at a basic level though experience.

In a sense, we are living in 'The Matrix'.

Reality is as much a product of how we perceive it, as it is the material world itself.

Can spiritual realities really be that hard to believe?

'Regular' life is a testament to the vast unknowns of what God has done.

Life Support


Anemia:  A condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues.

I like this word.   
Not because it's such a positive word - it's not.  It's a word that indicates weakness.  But it is a powerful word in that it succinctly describes a multi-symptomatic condition

I think many of us live anemic lives, full of anemic relationships.  

Medical lesson
Anemia is the most common disorder of the blood.  It's commonly caused by:  blood loss (such as through hemorrhage), excessive blood cell destruction, or deficient red cell production.  It leads to hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen, in the body.  All cells in the human body need oxygen in order to function; therefore, hypoxia has a wide range of symptomatic consequences.  

The most common symptom is weakness, or fatigue.  

Relational lesson
Let's see if we can apply all of this to relationships.

Poor relationships are a common disorder.  They are caused by:  ignorance, apathy and laziness leading to a lack of love.  All people need love (from God and for one another) in order to function; therefore, a failure to cultivate relationships has a wide range of symptomatic consequences.

The most common symptom is a weak spiritual life.

Our relationships, much like the organs in our body, may be receiving just enough to maintain a weak viability.  But then they will also be under-served, under distress, and under-performing. 

Who wants that?

What's the cure?

Here's what I think.

We have to be intentional about our relationships, not just with God, but also with each other.  There's a reason that Jesus said everything in the bible is summed up in loving God and loving others.  Those 2 things are linked.  But it doesn't just happen.  It takes things like:  work, vulnerability, inconvenience, pain.  But I think it can also be:  invigorating, satisfying, meaningful and beautiful.  Our flesh hates that first list, but our spirit knows the second list is true and right.  The first list is temporary, the second list resonates through eternity.  We should be heaven-bent on a quest to subdue our flesh, and force it to do the things our spirit knows is true and longs for.  

What would that look like?  What would our relationships look like?  What would our lives and our families look like if that was a reality?  Why should we give in and accept anemia?  

There are consequences to pay when our relationships are on life support.  Instead, through Christ, we can support others lives, who in turn support ours.

Are you feeling strong?  Keep an eye out for those who are weak and share your strength.
Are you feeling weak?  Ask for, and be willing to receive, love and help.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Mystery of Prayer

I jotted this post idea down a few weeks ago.  Now that our pastor is covering the topic on Sunday mornings, I think it's a good time to look at it.  

The questions I originally wanted to explore were:  How does prayer work?  Does God change his mind?  If God is omniscient, how can we have a better idea of what God should do than He does?  

Charlie stated this past Sunday (and I haven't heard the previous sermon yet) that he holds these things in tension, and believes that the bible supports both of them.  I think I can state them as 1) the truth that God has a sovereign, predetermined plan or will for how things will work out, and 2) that prayer actually accomplishes an outcome that wouldn't have occurred without prayer.  Is prayer simply the vehicle through which God accomplishes His predetermined plan, or is that a cop out?  

I would say, and I think this echoes Charlies thoughts, that prayer is primarily for us.  We align ourselves with God through prayer.  We agree with Him.  We access an understanding of spiritual realities.  I think a major benefit of prayer is the bonding of relationships through prayer.  Unfortunately, many of us see prayer as mainly a time to request things from God.  

But what about affecting, or effecting, outcomes?

When I pray for something, even if it's for an issue that I believe God would obviously be in favor of, such as physical wellness, or salvation for a friend, I always add the 'tag line' or 'disclaimer' of 'if it's Your will'.  I feel as though I'm acknowledging God may have a different plan, a better plan, than the one I think is best.  I may, in fact, be praying for something that God doesn't want.  

Is there a category of things that God is fine with either way, but if we pray, we can sway Him in one direction or the other?  What about Jesus' instruction about the persistent neighbor and persistent widow who get what they want through insistent, repeated requests?  Yet, Paul prayed 3 times for 'thorn' removal, and decided that was enough.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Is Your Child Spiritually Prepared?


It’s the first day of school.  Facebook timelines were filled with snapshots of kids posed with backpacks, uniforms, and lunchboxes standing in their front yard smiling for the camera. Hold the camera phone for a second!  I’m not talking about a kid’s first day of school EVER.  I’m saying there were several people who had pics of their kid’s first day of school…as a Sophomore!

It makes me laugh how the web has made posting pictures socially acceptable and fun.

Can you imagine if you went over to your friend’s house, they pulled the shades, and showed you slides of their kid’s first day of 4th grade?  I doubt any of us would “like” it.  We’d be thinking, “What’s next, your kids first trip to Skyline Chili?” *see Will Howlett’s facebook page circa 2010

I can’t blame parents for taking pics of their kids on their first day of school.  They’ve put a lot of time, money, and energy into preparing them.

The right clothes,
The right shoes,
The right classes,
The right transportation route,
The right supplies,
The right amount of sleep,
The right paperwork....all with the goal of their children finishing the year successfully.

I recently attended a workshop on how to prepare students for the transition from middle school to high school.  The JCPS counselor leading the session shared that 9th grade has the highest attrition rate because students aren’t prepared. 

My daughter doesn’t even start school til next year and we’ve been talking about preparing her for over a year!

Now let’s change gears.

If you are a parent, what are you doing to prepare your child spiritually?

Do you put in the same amount of time, money, and energy in making sure your child isn’t a victim of the attrition rate?  Researchers found that almost three out of five young Christians (59 percent) leave church life either permanently or for an extended period of time after age 15.

What things can we do to prepare our kids spiritually so they are prepared  not only for this life, but more importantly the next life?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Nomenclature

Well, the blog's been operating for just over a year now.  As I said on the first post, the name does not mean I'm looking for job applicants.  There is a slightly more well known Manpower already in existance (little p though).  Since I just came up with the name on the spur of the moment as I stumbled into creating a blog, and since I've decided this shouldn't be relegated to only men, I'm thinking about changing the name.  What do you suggest?  I think it should complement the tag line underneath it.  Whoever comes up with the best name gets a free lunch or dinner at the (cheap) restaurant of their choice!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chick-fil-heyyyyy!

Who would have thought that the battle for the morals of America would come down to a chicken sandwich?-Greg Steir

I promised i would write this blog post as soon as I got my sandwich-man that line was looooonng!
Line outside Hurstbourne Lane Chick-Fil-A at lunch time. 

I've been trying to formulate an opinion on all the craziness surrounding the recent comments of Chick-Fil-A President, Dan Cathy.

I was one of the masses that took my family to Chick-Fil-A on August 1st for Support Chick-Fil-A Day to support the right the company has to free speech. It upset me that elected officials in other parts of our country were attempting to block the company from expanding in their markets because of the owners comments.


As my family and some friends stood in the crowd at Chick-fil-a, a man shouted "GOD BLESS CHICK-FIL-A!" his hand raised, clutching a bag of waffle fries.  The crowd erupted in shouts and applause.  I started to laugh as I thought, I wonder if that guy ever shouted "GOD BLESS BURGER CHEF!!" or “GOD BLESS EAR-X-TACY!!!" before leaving those places of business.  If he had, I may be writing this blog while eating a burger and listening to a rare KISS import CD.

It’s easy to stand in line for a sandwich and shout amongst like-minded people.  It’s more difficult to pray daily for your friends, family and country, or do the work of getting your hands dirty.  

This isn’t to say that guy who shouted isn't doing those things.  He may very well be.  

And maybe he does shout “GOD BLESS RAVE CINEMAS!” every time he sees a movie...i dunno.  I  just want to encourage everyone to use this event to “spur one another on to love and good deeds”.

Or as my friend, Keith, wrote in a recent email:

May I suggest that going to a local Chick-Fil-A once in awhile does not constitute a spiritual revival.

That comment made me laugh as well as my spirit jump!  Somebody actually “gets it”!  A spiritual revival can only happen through prayer, followed by action.

What if instead of going to Chick-Fil-A, everyone took their money and donated it to a crisis pregnancy center, or homeless shelter?  What if all the food that was bought was donated?  What if people took their lunch break and prayed?  What if we used the opportunity to start conversations with people?

I’m not saying going to Chick-Fil-A was a bad thing. I went...and will again. However, there is a perception, real or imagined, that Christians:
A) hate gay people 
B) are too political 
C) talk a lot but don’t do anything 
D) are only interested in converting you,  

Sadly, while I was pleased with the turnout, i’m afraid that this is just another event that perpetuated our image problem.

Most of us will get fired up and wait in line for an hour for a sandwich, but complain when the church service goes too long.  We will take a “stand” for Biblical marriage, when we never even open the Bible with our spouse.  We oppose gay marriage, but don’t have any relationships with gay people.

I posted the above picture on Facebook on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.  Among the “Amen” and “Halleluiah” comments posted by others, Chris, a gay kid I’ve connected with at Campus Life, an after school ministry at a local high school, commented, “makes me feel loved...oh wait...the exact opposite”.  

Again, we have a perception problem.  To some, the Chick Fil A Day was a rallying point for lovers of free speech, for others it was saying “Christians hate me because I’m gay,”
If we really want to see the needle move, eating a sandwich isn’t going to do it. 

Jesus said the greatest commandments were to love God and love your neighbor.  

It's time to move from a defense to a discussion.

If we focus on God and people, and not just “causes” God will honor that and hopefully we will see revival.  

Are You Afraid of God?

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom...”  Psalm 111:10.  There’s a similar verse found in Proverbs (1:7)  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge...”.  Job 28:28 says “The fear of the LORD is true wisdom...”.  

What does the 'fear of God' mean?  

Most people describe the word 'fear' as meaning 'reverence' in the bible.  Plainly, however, the word 'reverence' was not used.  The word 'fear' was.  I'm not saying that reverence isn't part of 'fear', but it seems that the 'reverence' camp would have me believe that being afraid has nothing to do with 'fear'.  
To quote Mr. Spock:  This seems most illogical.

The NLT translates the word 'beginning' in the above passages as 'foundation'.  I've read other teaching on this concept that promoted the idea that fearing God is the 'start' of wisdom.  But then, as you progress in spiritual maturity, you grow out of that fearful state.  There seems to be a correlation between this idea and the way we raise our kids.  When they're very young, they are required to mind us, regardless of whether or not they understand, and sometimes the lesson is applied with a small dose of pain.  I think there is a 'fear' of disobeying mom and dad in that situation.  However, as they grow older, there is less corporal punishment (hopefully) and more discussion about the whys of instruction.  Maturity.

1 John 4:18 says: Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. NLT  

So does that mean as justified Christians, we should have NO fear of God?

I'm just asking questions.  Tell me what you think.

Will:  This took about 20 minutes.  Now get going.

Monday, July 30, 2012

When Should You Leave Your Church?

We've been looking at trends within our church lately.  One of them seems to be this 'revolving door' phenomenon where we maintain, or slightly lose, overall membership, but regularly have high turnover.  We're also being told that we're about to enter into a time where there will be major changes to the way we do things.  Though that hopefully means the 'revolving door' will be shut, it may also mean a more rapid exodus of those who don't appreciate major changes to the way things are done.

Change can be good.  It's an opportunity.  
It can also be difficult and uncomfortable.  
How will the church view and respond to it?

So, the question of this post is it's title 'When should you leave your church?'.

Some would say that short of direct heresy being preached from the pulpit, you should never leave your church.  You're part of a body.  Don't amputate yourself.  In fact, quit being a useless limb and get to work on any of the problems that you perceive.  Others may think leaving or changing churches is no different than deciding Kroger has better prices than Walmart on groceries.  There may be many views in between.  Preaching styles, children's programs, youth programs, music programs, a sense of connectedness, etc. may all factor in to what's considered a legitimate reason for finding a new church.  

But should they?

What would you consider a legitimate reason for leaving?
What do you think God's view is on church membership?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Were you predestined to read this?

Today's topic is Calvinism.  It's a rather difficult and broad one.  But I think we can break down and discuss some of it's elements, and hopefully get a better grasp on the concept in the process.  

In order to have the most interesting and engaging conversation possible, I'm not going to google search anything about this topic for now.  In the follow-up responses by anybody, we can do some research.  But for now, I'm just writing from the heart.  

First, I'd like to break apart the idea of being predestined (or foreordained) for salvation from the idea of having all of our daily actions being predetermined.  I think this is one sticking point, or possible misunderstanding, about Calvinism.  We can discuss both of these things, but the most important (and interesting, in my opinion) is the salvation issue.

Not all Calvinists like this acrostic, but it's helpful - TULIP.
T - total depravity of man
U - unconditional election 
L - limited atonement
I - irresistable grace
P - perseverance of the saints
(OK, I googled that cause I usually get the U wrong)

Some christians say they're 3 or 4 point Calvinists.  Usually the L and I are the 2 debated points.  

Obviously, if antonement is limited (the L), Christ didn't die for all people.  But personally, I think Calvinism is proved, or disproved, by I.  Is God's call 'irresistible'?  Does man have the option to resist?  Calvinists would say that once God has regenerated a soul, that soul willingly accepts God's offer of salvation.  In other words, the question isn't CAN man resist, there simply is no desire TO resist.  Yet we often hear this idea that Christ is 'knocking'.  Won't you open the door?  Will you reject Him?  Or we may have heard people say, 'I felt God tugging at my heart, but I just didn't want to respond'.  That doesn't sound too irresistible.  Or was it merely human emotion at work?

Most baptists I know are reluctant to identify themselves with Calvinism (or sometimes the word Reformed is used).  However, we also can't ignore the many references in the bible to the elect, the chosen, the predestined, the foreordained, and so on.  

Calvinism is heavy on God's sovereignty in saving us, and I think that's a good thing.  Some complain that it would necessarily minimize evangelism due to the elect being secure - regardless of whether or not you and I witness to them.

These are just a few points to raise.  What are your thoughts?
It's obviously becoming a very big topic in the Baptist church today.
In fact, the Kentucky Baptist Convention is sponsoring an all-day conference August 4th at Crestwood Baptist Church entitled 'Calvinism:  Concerned, Confused or Curious.  Cost $45.
I'm signed up.

(It may not be visible, but if you hover your cursor under \/ here, the comment link will become visible)

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Power of Vulnerability

Time for you to stretch again.

I recently watched 2 short (20 minutes), yet what I consider to be, profound videos by Brene Brown given during a TED lecture.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  It's an interesting non-profit organization that is devoted to spreading ideas.  I'll include the links below.  I highly recommend watching them but I'm going to summarize what I thought were the important points.

Vulnerability is not weakness.  That myth is profoundly dangerous.  It's our most accurate measurement of courage.  Vulnerability is the path to finding our way back to each other.  Connection is why we're here.  It's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.  

Shame is the fear of disconnection.  It's a fear that there's something about me, that if people knew, would make me unworthy of connection.  Nobody want's to talk about it, and the less you talk about it, the more you have it.  What underpins shame is vulnerability.  
In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be really seen.

The only difference between those who have a strong sense of love and belonging, and those who struggle for it is:  the former believe they are worthy of love and belonging.  The latter are kept out of connection.  They believe they're not worthy of it.  The former have the courage to be imperfect and authentic.  They embrace vulnerability.  They see it as necessary.  They are willing to do something where there were no guarantees.  

Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it's also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love.  We numb vulnerability - spend, eat, addictive behavior - but then we also numb joy and gratitude.  Then we don't have purpose and meaning, so again we numb.  It becomes a dangerous cycle.

Shame prevents us from being OK with failure.  Not being OK with failure prevents us from trying, daring, and succeeding.  The antidote to shame is empathy.  The 2 most powerful words when we're dealing with struggle are:  Me too.

Let yourself be seen.  Love with your whole heart.  Practice gratitude.

Listening to Shame

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Complemetarianism in Action

Basically, complimentarianism is the belief that men and women have gender roles in the church.  Egalitarianism is the belief that men and women are completely equal when it comes to gender roles.  The former can be misinterpreted as misogynistic (right word?), but here is a complementarian's view on marriage regarding a question I've wondered about before - what should a man, who believes he's called by God to a ministry, do when his wife is NOT on board with the ministry:

You are called to a self-sacrificial headship in your marriage.  This means you love your wife, and you do what’s best for her, even to the point of crucifying your own ambitions, your own callings, and even your own life (Eph. 5:25-30).  Don’t put your wife in the situation in which she must choose between loyalty to you and fidelity to what she believes.  If that means serving the Lord in some way other than the pastorate, so be it. Your marriage is more important than your ministry.

Russell Moore

Pretty strong.  Agree?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Racist Country?

I have posted a few things questioning racism in America.
It's an interesting topic to me, and I think one worth exploring.
I ran across this statement by conservative talk-show host Dennis Prager today.  I've heard him a few times on the radio and he seems to be an articulate intellectual.
Tell me what you think.

"In light of the tragic killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin -- and the manufactured hysteria surrounding it -- one thing needs to be stated as clearly and as often as possible: The United States is the least racist and least xenophobic country in the world.  Foreigners of every race, ethnicity, and religion know this.  Most Americans suspect this.  Most black Americans and the entire left deny this.  Black Africans know this.  That is why so many seek to live in the United States.  Decades ago, the number of black Africans who had immigrated to the United States had already surpassed the number of black Africans who were forcibly shipped to America as slaves. ... The left-wing drumbeat about America as racist is a combination of politics and black memory.  The political aspect is this: The Democrats and the left recognize that if blacks cease viewing themselves as victims of racism, the Democratic Party can no longer offer itself as black America's savior." --radio talk-show host Dennis Prager

Personally, I agree that there seemed to be mass hysteria generated by this event.  It was a terrible event that occurred.  But prior to all of facts coming out, many people were in a feeding frenzy over it - and demanding a conviction.  A conviction did occur, and I'll trust that it was the correct outcome.  But judging the issue prior to a trial is what the 'lynch mobs' of the past were all about.  I kept wondering, as I heard people interviewed - How can you march in the street about an issue you don't even have all the facts on?  It's also well-known that America has been a melting pot of many colors and cultures since its inception.  I don't think racism will ever be totally dead, just like I don't think hatred will ever be totally dead.  But do we make more of it than we should?  Maybe we should be celebrating our successes more often than complaining about our failures.  Is politics one of the primary supporters and promoters of racism? 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Illusion?


I found this quote intriguing and wondered what you thought about it:

Relationship is the vehicle for awakening from the illusion of 

separateness.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stats

I haven't done stats in a while.  Here's what's happenin':
The most viewed post of the past week is Lose With Dignity, Celebrate With Grace with 20 pageviews.
The most viewed of the past month is When Gods Collide with 35 hits.
The most viewed all time is still Generate Good with 135 visits.